Begravement – “Conjuring The Necromancer” – Review & Interview with Ezra

I’ve long championed the Minneapolis/St.Paul and greater Twin Cities metal scene, and for good reason. I’ll stop myself short of mentioning all the amazing bands from the area that I can recall right now so as to not inevitably forget a bunch that should also be included. Suffice to say, Minnesota’s metal roots run deep, long and far. Hell, we are home to the longest running metal themed radio show on the planet and currently have 3 weekly shows dedicated to true heavy metal – not that bullshit radio crossover stuff – on the actual radio airwaves. To speak nothing of internet shows and podcasts. Many famous shops, labels, and clubs have come and gone over the last 30-40 years (and more, really), but in Minnesota – metal is still and has always been a part of who we are, almost.

Being able to look back those same 30 years on the local metal scene with even the smallest lens and then mention a band made up of members that are just a little over half that many years in age is kind of a trip. But here we are, and the band is Begravement.

Seniors in high school or relatively freshly out of high school, everyone in the band, these kids brandish a style and sound that is simultaneously entirely their own unique thing and wholly reminiscent of every classic 90s thrash or death metal band you listened to if you’ve been alive long enough to be raised on or experienced with the classics. Never a “sounds like” band, Begravement are clearly educated on and raised from the roots of the big 4 of thrash all the way through to both the slept on diamonds in the rough and classics from the death metal scene of the mid/late 90s and early early 00s. It’s a death metal album for thrash fans and a thrash album for death metal fans, while being a metal album for anyone who loves the real rockin’ shit.

After the keyboards of the first track fade it is 100% on. Riffs upon riffs, groovy solos and flairs, screeched vocals and gutterals alike, melodic breakdowns, blastbeats and fills, keyboard flourishes, all the shit you love and know from oldschool deathy thrash but presented fresh and new. Which is pretty damn remarkable on its own, but when considering these kids weren’t even alive for half of the stuff they seem to be influenced by or channeling, it’s truly something else. It really makes me wonder who turned these dudes onto metal in the first place, what their training is, influences, experiences, etc.

So I decided to ask the band themselves. I managed to pin down Ezra, who seems to kind of be the leader or figure head for the band. He was gracious enough to answer some burning questions.

Let’s get the obvious questions out of the way, since mostly anyone who has at least heard the name Begravement knows you’re all young compared to a lot of bands operating in the style(s) you do. So how old is everyone?

Owen and I are 18, Matt and Colin are 17.

Who does what in the band and how long have you been doing it and what are your influences? Any official training?

I’m the sort-of lead guitarist and the lead vocalist. Until Matt joined in early 2020, I was the only songwriter really. Most of my guitar parts for Begravement are heavily rooted in American OSDM and more extreme classic thrash, while I think my vocals are a bit more Dan Swan√∂. I’ve taken guitar lessons on and off for the last nine years, and voice instruction for a little over five.

Matt plays bass. He’s been playing for around five and a half years now and is completely self taught. His bigger influences on bass are Cliff Burton, Steve DiGiorgio, Trevor Dunn, and Stefan Fimmers.

Owen has been playing guitar for almost 10 years, taking lessons almost the whole time until about a year ago. Owen is much more into old-school thrash; Sepultura, Kreator, Sarcófago.

Colin has been drumming for three or four years. He mainly plays jazz, but for metal he’s very into modern stuff like Animals as Leaders, Gojira, and Meshuggah.

What was the first metal album that clicked for you? First metal show?

For me at the beginning it was all Metallica and I didn’t really pay much attention to anyone else. It took me quite awhile to appreciate the album as a format; for the longest time I would just download individual songs. The first album I can remember being totally blown away by was “Rust in Peace”. I was lucky enough to see Sabbath on their final tour for my first show.

How long has the band been active and what have been the peaks and valleys as a unit so far?

Theoretically speaking, Begravement has been around for a little over three years, though for the first six months we were using the name Operation: Obliteration. We’ve had really long stretches of time where we struggled to find band members who really clicked with us, and during those periods we usually weren’t very productive; the two songs on our first demo were recorded more than a month apart, and the demo wasn’t released for another half a year. I think the high point for me so far was just the rush of support we got from all corners of the earth after we released “Conjuring the Necromancer”. For a week or two there it truly felt like we were a totally unstoppable force.

“Conjuring The Necromancer” is the debut album and it is damn good. How’d that come about? Who writes? What was the overall idea for the end result?

I’m flattered! The original intention was to record a second demo with four or five songs. We started discussing it about a month after Matt joined. Pretty quickly with COVID and all everything shut down and we weren’t able to rehearse at all. So we decided to record the demo remotely; Owen would record drum tracks, lay down guitars over that, and then email it all to Matt and me; we’d record our parts in our own homes, and then I’d consolidate and mix it all myself. It wasn’t long before we realized the recording quality we were getting was actually good enough that we could call the release a real EP if we wanted.

Favorite pizza toppings and soda flavors?

Pineapple is the best pizza topping, and any member of Begravement who dislikes it is no longer a member of Begravement. I like cream soda.

Any plans for a new album or gigs or something else?

We do have a few gigs on the schedule for August and September, but it’s unclear if we’ll be booking any more after those as there may be some other aspects of the band we need to prioritize to get ourselves up to full performing capacity. Nothing huge, just the usual bumps in the road. New music is already in the works, though I’d like to workshop it really hard and get it to sound absolutely perfect before we hit the studio. I’m willing to move a little slower to make sure our debut full-length does reach its maximum potential. We’re hoping to do another demo for this album in the same rough, DIY style as our first one, and hopefully that’ll be done by the end of the year.

Shoutouts, mention, final thoughts, etc?

First of all, thank you so much for reaching out to us to do this interview! Your support for underground music is invaluable. I’d also like to thank you for our logo; I think the fresh visual identity that came with it is a big part of what inspired us to get to work on our EP. I’d also like to thank Brennan McCurdy for his outstanding cover art; Dave Sikorski for helping us get our first batch of shirts out into the world; and all the DJs at KFAI for giving our music more airplay than I’d ever even imagined. Cheers!

Thanks to Ezra from Begravement for taking some time out of working on new material and preparing for a series of live gigs (to speak nothing of having just graduating from high school) – one of which being their debut live performance!

I see nothing but the absolute brightest of futures for these kids from Minnesota. Watching them come to form while working with them, peripherally as I did, and seeing their growth and drive – it’s kind of like watching a documentary 20 years later about a band you grew up with that went on to be famous – except it’s happening in real time.

Be sure to go check this band out if they’re in your area!

Do not sleep on Begravement, fam. Cd, patch, etc on their Bandcamp. 100% support!

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